Opinions & Insights

Want higher-converting campaigns? The secret is to ship web experiences faster

Opinions & Insights

Want higher-converting campaigns? The secret is to ship web experiences faster

Conversion is everything.

Marketing leaders talk about a lot of things. But whether we talk about personalization, page load time, or performance, everything is in service of conversion.

I sat down recently to talk about marketing campaigns with Gatsby co-founder Sam Bhagwat. I had two conclusions.

First, you can't get great conversion without great campaigns.

And second, you can't get great campaigns without being able to ship web experiences faster.

Following is the video and transcript of our conversation.

Traditional marketing campaigns risk irrelevance by launch day

Dorian Kendal: From a marketing leader perspective, everything revolves around conversion. Whether we talk about personalization, page load time, performance, uptime, seamless checkout, everything is in service of conversion.

Dorian Kendal: If you're driving pipeline, the metric that matters is conversion. If you're in e-commerce, it's sales. But no matter what, everything feeds into that one metric.

Dorian Kendal: And to drive conversions, one of the most important things from a marketing perspective, is how quickly can I get a campaign live?

Dorian Kendal: Because we move so fast, relevance is really tied to time-to-market. Often something I thought would be interesting or relevant six months ago is three months later, completely irrelevant -- because the world changed. A great example is COVID.

My takeaway is that shortening the amount of time from ideation to exploration to execution is critical. So many things -- information and circumstances and the environment and economy -- change so rapidly, so that the olden-day approach of 4-6 month campaigns force you into a position where often you launch a campaign that's irrelevant.

Sam Bhagwat: And so what happens if you're three months into a six month campaign and something's changed?

Dorian Kendal: Oftentimes you're stuck. So what you do is you look at where are the things that I can actually change? It can be very difficult. If you're using a monolith, the actual backend structure and architecture, the page designs, the components that you have to create, force you into a very rigid state.

Maybe you have a table on a page that is created with certain constraints. In the monolith, adding a different number of rows or columns to that table is a full engineering structural endeavor.

Marketing with a monolith means only tweaking around the edges

Sam Bhagwat: So in the monolith, you can get into this place where things are already in flight and you're trying to change the airplane in the air. And that's just really complicated.

Dorian Kendal: Exactly. And that's why the planning process, oftentimes you'll see major organizations on monoliths. They only have a couple big events a year because it takes four to six months to plan for those.

So from that perspective, from the web part, once you design, you develop your build materials, you structure your plan, you are effectively stuck. And so you go live.

Dorian Kendal: So what you end up doing is finding other ways to adjust your campaign around the edges. Different emails with different messaging. Different ads that have a little bit of a different message. You're trying to adjust the overall perspective of the campaign, but you can't do it at the core campaign itself.

Long launch times means less fit-and-finish and less flexibility

Dorian Kendal: With a campaign, you know when the fun really starts? Launch day. When you go live, you see what actually happens. You see what's resonating with people. You see what they are clicking on and where they are engaging. You see if your wording is actually resonating, and if people are understanding the words that you used. Marketing campaigns are always built on a bunch of hunches and assumptions, and launch means you can actually test those and tweak.

Dorian Kendal: With a monolith, in many cases, after launching, you're stuck. You see the data, but to actually change things would be such a lift that you often find yourself in these conversations where your development team is responding to proposed changes and asking whether they will be material. Because they're already starting to build the next campaign. So they're asking, do we really need to adjust the thing that's in flight?

Dorian Kendal: From the CMO's perspective, you need to get live faster, because you need the most relevant campaign for that point in time. And because things change so quickly, the shorter time to from ideation to execution is key. And then post-launch, being able to adjust, to actually change your approach, or change your messaging, or change your graphics based on what you're seeing.

Everything changes when you can launch web campaigns quickly

Sam Bhagwat: Everything changes when you can get things live more quickly. I love how our Ship It Faster campaign went from idea to execution, in, what was that, three weeks? Four weeks?

Dorian Kendal: It was not even five weeks. We did a homepage redesign, built a landing page, created a customized assessment tool, an actual dynamic form which we created with design and engineering work. We built a scoring system. We created an ebook. We created a way to evaluate areas of improvement. We could resonate with the user. We built ads and put it into our newsletter. This was all within a five-week period. And the core of it is the web.

Dorian Kendal: My biggest message is that if the web doesn't work, none of that matters. And when it takes five or six months to do the core web part, the messaging lags, the approach lags. In my previous life, we could not have done this in four months. There's no way.

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